William (“Billy”) Lee

Portrait of Washington and Billy Lee by John Trumbull, 1780

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QUICK FACTS
BORN:
c. 1750
  DIED:
1828 at Mount Vernon, Virginia
Buried in the slave burial ground at Mount Vernon.

  • During the summer of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, with Washington presiding, Billy Lee stood behind his master’s chair and tended to his personal needs.
Portrait to come. See entry in Wikipedia. George Washington's long-time valet, William Lee, suffered two serious accidents in the 1780s which dislocated the knee caps of both legs, resulting in permanent disability. Because he could no longer perform his regular duties, Lee became the plantation's shoemaker instead.

 

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At the end of March [1783] Franklin applied to [French Foreign Secretary] Vergennes for permission to publish a complete translation of the United States constitutions in French, the only language in which they could be widely read. He was eager to correct Europe’s misapprehensions about the new nation; he knew as well that he was offering up an advertisement for American trade and immigration.... Copies went out over the summer to the entire diplomatic corps and, in extravagantly bound editions, to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. The most influential of Franklin’s European publications the constitutions were universally well received.

Stacy Schiff
A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America (2005)